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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.

5 Comments

  1. FlexFantastic
    January 20, 2014 @ 7:39 am

    I'm pretty sure I have these paperbacks in a box somewhere. I really need to dig 'em out, since I remember precisely nothing that you've described here.

    More and more – especially through reading your posts on this time in between TOS and the films – I'm convinced of the hypothesis put forward that a lot of what made Trek so great is what started bubbling up during this period. It's an increasingly convincing notion.

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  2. BerserkRL
    January 20, 2014 @ 6:55 pm

    When I read the Star Wars novelisation at age 13, I said "wow, this George Lucas isn't a bad writer; he writes just like Alan Dean Foster."

    Of course I'd gotten into Foster's work starting from his Star trek adaptations.

    Star Wars is also well-known for being the first, or at least the first large-scale and well-known, fusion of science fiction and fantasy tropes and motifs.

    Flash Gordon?

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  3. Josh Marsfelder
    January 21, 2014 @ 4:45 pm

    I suppose to an extent. I'd put Flash Gordon more in the pulp genre myself, though it was obviously an influence on Star Wars.

    Of course Star Wars' real innovation was taking a lot of motifs that had been around for quite some time, putting them together and polishing the result up into a blockbuster package. Hence my use of terms like "large-scale".

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  4. Daru
    February 10, 2014 @ 10:17 pm

    Got fond memories of reading these as a kid, buying them and later borrowing them from my local library. I can see for the first time because of your essays that this period for Start Trek was indeed one of major developments that would influence the show's future. thanks again for a good read.

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  5. Froborr
    October 11, 2014 @ 2:39 pm

    So, I first encountered Foster's Animated Series novelizations in high school, when I was 13 and for various reasons I won't get into spent as much time as possible in the school library. They had a room devoted to science fiction paperbacks, and two entire rows on one shelf were nothing but Star Trek novels. The very first items in this row? A complete set of Foster's Logs.

    At this point I had no idea the Animated Series was a thing that existed. As far as I know, it was never syndicated in my area, and I was a Star Trek fan in the sense of religiously watching the show, not in the sense of being plugged into any kind of collective of people who watched it or having access to sources of knowledge about it, so as far as I was concerned these were a collection of surprisingly good novellas about the TOS crew.

    Foster is going to be guest of honor at a quasi-nearby convention in a few months. I'm still debating going–if I do, it'll be to present a panel on science fiction in animation, and of course ST:TAS will be in there.

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